5 Tips to take better Candid Family Photos

This post is for all of you taking photos at your family events that don’t quite warrant spending money on a photographer. I’m talking about birthdays, and holidays, family get togethers, etc. So often in my Facebook newsfeed I see albums for photos taken candidly at family events and it occurred to me that maybe some of us need a little bit of direction so that Aunt Sally doesn’t get made because she’s bending over to pick up a kid in the background of that kinda blurry shot you took of cousin Mark. I thought I’d lay down a few rules for you to consider when you’re shooting these events. Your friends and family will thank you later, promise!

  1. Stop taking pictures of people while they’re eating. Stop it. Just don’t. Often times we think the shot of everyone at the table will be nice because there are groupings of people but the short answer is “No”. If you want to get the groupings, enjoy YOUR meal and then grab your cell phone or your camera and head over either before everyone starts eating or just after they’ve finished, or better yet once everyone has coffee. Trust me.
  2. Consider the background. Look, in the example I gave above about Aunt Sally? Yeah, that’s a thing. Noone wants a photo of their bent over bum or face, chewing food in any image. Not ever. If cousin Mark is being funny, or has a great smile, have him turn towards the light or move to the left a little. If he’s a ham, he’ll eat it up. If he’s got a great smile, he’ll appreciate the attention and recognition of wanting to be photographed. Don’t assume that just because it is a candid moment that he won’t move a foot or two. Aunt Sally will give you high fives, too.
  3. Have your subject turn towards the light. How many times have you taken a sweet family shot in front of the Christmas tree, or in a living room and at the time you think it’s perfect and then when you upload it you realize you have crazy shadows being cast down people’s faces because a light overhead (from a fan or sconce) was directly overhead and now they look like they could be characters on The Walking Dead? Either turn that light off for a moment or find something white (a piece of paper, paper towel roll, a white plate, a piece of poster board, a white blanket on the couch, etc.) to bounce that light shining down back to their faces. It’s a great trick AND when you pull it off, it’s pretty impressive to onlookers too.
  4. Turn off your flash already. You’re trying to get a beautiful dimply lit shot that has the heart of the moment in it and your flash fires and now everyone’s skin is bleach white and they have devil eyes. Crank up that ISO on your Canon Rebel or slow down your shutter speed (no more than the size of the focal length you’re using) and hold the camera steady. The ambient light you’re hoping to capture there will come to life. It’ll be great.
  5. Consider your subject. You have 15-20 images and you’re posting them to Facebook and in one or two shots the people you’re photographing aren’t being flattered and aren’t paying attention to you…just toss em. Really. No one really cares about a moment where the main subject is talking to the other person, mouth agape, turned away from the camera, and shot from below. It isn’t flattering. It isn’t a “candid, photo-journalistic” moment. It’s just a bad shot. It’s okay. Even seasoned professionals have a couple of those from events they shoot. Guess what happens to those images? Recycle bin. That’s what.
    1. If you want to really capture the moment, set up the shot. You can do this candidly. Consider the framing of the moment, move the camera up a little or over to the left. If you’re photographing a conversation between two people, move front and center. The image won’t make sense if the closest subject’s head is turned 120 degrees away from you and the person they’re talking with is out of focus and not paying attention in the first place.

Cinderelly, Cinderelly!

When you come in for a portrait session we will photograph you in up to 5 different outfits. What better reason to take advantage of grabbing that gown in the closet that you’ve been dying to wear? C’mon, I know it’s in there!

Whether it is your wedding dress, or a thrifty find, or just an incredible dress you’ve been dying to wear but just haven’t had the opportunity bring it with you!

We all have that dress. The one you feel like a million dollars in, a Hollywood starlet. Even if it’s a wee bit tighter than you remember, we have ways of making it fit for a portrait 😉

Every woman loved playing dress up at some point during her life, even me. Now is the time to get dressed up to create the images your great-grandchildren will thank you for.

Ring in for a photo shoot. I can’t wait to photograph you.

gown - epic portrait - woman - cinderella - bridal portraits

“Mothers, Daughters, Sisters” {A Portrait Book 2}

“Mothers, Daughters, Sisters” a portrait book.

Just wow. I cannot even tell you how incredible this journey is. Over the past month I have enjoyed the company of some amazing women, all sharing stories about their daughters, step daughters, granddaughters, sisters. Birth stories, victories, heartfelt moments…We laugh and some even cry about these times together. It is mesmerizing.

I sat down to write some for the book tonight. I’ve been editing these amazing images and meeting with each of the women involved…It just takes my breath away. One thing is for sure though, this book is so much more than my portrait work. It is sharing the light that each of these women carries, their hearts, their souls, and everything they want to say.

After much thought, I’ve decided to expand the scope of this project. Originally, I had only planned on including a handful of women that had shown interest in the book. Frankly, after being a part of these women’s lives even for a short period and creating this artwork with them, how could I not expand to allow others who want to participate?

If you are interested in having a portrait session with us with your mom, daughter, granddaughter, sister, or cousin, we would love to have you. We have extended the shoots into the summer to accommodate families and the Buncombe county school schedule. You can review all of the details on our website here. It will give you all of the preliminary details about participation, expectation, and costs and of course, you can reach out directly with any questions and to apply.

This weekend alone I photographed a three generations shoot for a grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter that simply set my soul on fire! And then a mother and daughter photo shoot with a young high school sophomore that reminded me so much of my younger self. They are all exactly WHY I do what I do. I love creating and having these wonderful hearts in our studio to showcase their love for one another…I can’t even describe it. This imagery will be cherished by each of them and their children’s children for generations. Wow! Just, wow.

Thank you to everyone who has participated to this point and I cannot wait to photograph many more of you to showcase in our portrait book, “Mothers, Daughters, Sisters”.

Apply to be considered for inclusion in our portrait book, “Mothers, Daughters, Sisters”

A Red Head and Two Dresses

Goodness gracious! Everyone, meet Kelly. Wife to an officer in the Army, student, and soon-to-be therapist. One of the things I learned about Kelly today is that her purpose is to be the hope in people’s lives, the light. Wow! It blew me away.

One of the things I love about her is that she knows what she wants. So often, when you ask someone what they are looking for, what they want out of life they sort of look at you like there is a foot growing on your face. Kelly knew straight away and I’ll tell you what, mark my words, she will get it.

portrait - red head - ginger - asheville photographer

Kelly’s husband is deployed at the moment but, we’re both sort of hoping these images help ease the wait until he returns to the states.

PS – Kelly’s husband, in case noone has mentioned it, Thank you. You and your service are greatly appreciated.

red head - portrait - portfolio

Are you interested in a photo shoot with Studio 828 Photography? Feel free to contact us using the form below. We would love to have you in for a consultation.

Sue Bryce Education in Paris

Honey, I’m Hooooome! Wow! WHAT. A. Trip. Somebody pinch me! In case I hadn’t told you (oh who am I kidding? Of course I told you), I’ve spent the last two weeks abroad in Paris, France. You read that correctly, Paris! Gah! ANNNND! It was for a workshop with the leading photographer of women in. the. world!!!! Sue Bryce.

You might remember that I studied under Sue in one of her courses for the better part of 2015. That in and of itself allowed me to grow my own skill set to better my shooting and my business practices. In short, it changed my business. In October of last year, I traveled to New York to a photography trade-show (Photo Plus Expo) to meet her. Well, I took other classes also but, meeting Sue was at the top of my list.

Then, she announced her workshop in Paris. It was this incredible, dream-worthy, and completely unattainable goal. I literally had NO IDEA how I would afford it but, I was going. No ifs, ands, or buts. It seemed impossible. And then it wasn’t. I jumped in feet first. I was going to Paris to study under Sue Bryce. There was no question. “Impossible IS I’m Possible” right?

world reknown photographer sue bryce
Coffee, sequins, and glamour

Sue brought her team of mentors to teach an intense two days of shooting, business, and if you follow Sue at all you know she will also present you with the opportunity to face you own deamons, too.

The workshop was held in a Chateau in St Germaine en Laye…where Amadeus Mozart stayed on THREE different occasions, and even wrote about the home himself. It is one thing to see this place in photographs and completely another to walk through the doors.

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Being greeted by Sue. Image courtesy Katinka Tromp

Day One:

I was greeted by the mentors, Sue, and Cookie. Sue’s adorably famous star Pug. She immediately ran right up my leg, gave me a kiss and ran away again.

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Cookie Bryce

I must admit, I was way off my game for most of the first day. Well more nervous than I had expected to be not to mention, my camera was malfunctioning somehow (being rectified, no worries), and I felt like, like…I felt like it was my first day on a new job. New people, new expectations, I didn’t know what those expectations were, new workflow, and everyone was nice, and patient, and wonderful and I’m over here in the corner all “hey, look at my thumbs!”.

About half way through the day I found my stride. My camera would fire when I told it to, I was more comfortable with the setting and holy wow did I shoot some beautiful portraits! Even during one of the scenarios did I receive personal, one-on-one mentoring with Sue.

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Sue, Lauren, and Esti

One of the things that I loved most about the workshop is that attendance was so limited so that Sue was able TO give individual attention outside of the classroom setting. I can honestly say that my shooting, even if I gleaned nothing else from this course (which is NOT the case), the quality of my shooting has grown by leaps and bounds. Their (Sue and Emily London Miller‘s) guidance literally, changed my life.

behind the scenes of a photo shoot with sue bryce
Emily, Caitlin, and Sue
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Caitlin, Sue, and Rodney
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The szhuszh! Sue and Caitlin

And that was just day one.

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The ceiling was incredible, truly. Imae courtesy Katinka Tromp Photoraphy

Day Two was all about the biz! The pricing, the marketing and networking, and the part where you are faced with your own YOU. AKA, do or die, baby! Needless to say, there were a lot of tears that second day, even by me. (I’m not really a public crier normally but on day two…holy cow! Waterworks over here!)

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Sue, Shauna, and Rebecca posing 2’s

And then there was dancing. Yes, dancing. We had scrapped an idea to flashmob Sue at lunch that day (being grown, professional adults) and then a little birdie told Sue what we had been planning. Yyyyyeah, so we were called out and you’d better believe that about 8 or 10 of us got up there and did a choreographed dance to “Fireball” by Pitbull. Choreographed by one Rodney Pedroza. I also discovered something else…I probably shouldn’t spin in public without a dancing partner. 😛

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Dancing for Sue, Image courtesy Olga Zametra

This trip abroad was a lot of things: I made connections with amazing photographers from the US, the UAE, and Europe, for the first time in my life I facilitated something wonderful in my life, on my own that had nothing to do with anyone or anything other than my own desires both personally and professionally, I studied under the number one photographer of women in the world, THE WORLD, and I am facing some pretty incredible aspects of myself that I both am and am not prepared to face, and I welcome it.

I know! All this from one workshop huh?

Thank you, Sue. Again and again, your influence has changed my life, Thank you.

paris - chateau - mozart
Lauren directing Katie

For anyone considering whether or not a workshop given by a leader in your field is worth the time or the expense, look a little closer. I hear, so often that “Oh, it was at a workshop, that’s WHY it’s good.” which I think is a cop-out. In attending education, given by those at the top of their field, YOUR field you are giving yourself the opportunity to grow. You are investing in yourSELF and you WILL grow from it. I highly recommend it.

XoXo,

Cat

#mirrormirroronthewall

#namaste

#certaintyandconviction

PS – don’t be surprised if I purchase all the crown molding from my local supply store (ALL of it) and paint it gold. PS: If I go missing, it’s because my husband came home and discovered that I DIY’ed our brick ranch into a French chateau. Those walls though, GAH!

😀

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These images were created at Sue Bryce’s 1st Paris workshop 2016 by Cat Ford-Coates

 

 

Arbonne Annie in Asheville

One of my recent clients is Annie. She has been with Arbonne for a little over two years now and is discovering how exciting owning your own business can be. For those that aren’t entrepreneurs, your first couple of years can be a real doozie and much of the time it is difficult to see the forest through the trees. Luckily, Annie has oodles of inspiration and purpose that is her driving force and she is KILLIN it in her business!

I give you, #ArbonneAnnie

ARBONNE - ASHEVILLE - LIPSTICK - FROM DAY TO NIGHT

One of the things that I LOVE about Annie is her drive. She and her husband have this incredible love, four amazing kids and she is inspired daily to not only contribute to her home and their livelihood and future but, it is because of her business that they are all travelling to Europe this summer! How exciting is that??? It inspires me for sure.

One of the things that I love about Annie’s business IS her purpose. She is creating a foundation because the woman that inspired her to succeed IN her business passed away unexpectedly and they were very close. Gah, if I ever were to lose anyone close to me like that I wouldn’t even know where to begin let alone how to champion a charity. It is truly remarkable. She is also coordinating savings to contribute towards the Buncombe county school system. Look, we all know that the public school budget is less than ideal and here comes this woman, this incredible mother with plans to create a buffer so that the structures, the classrooms, and the teachers have a resource to meet their deficit.

arbonne manifesto

And to do all of this by providing these amazing skincare lines and beauty products that are eco-friendly, natural, and safe to use. It is a win-win! Oh and by the way, I have sampled the RE9 skincare system, and the “Lotus” lipstick. For starters, the lip line is Annie’s favorite and I can see why. The texture is out of this world creamy, and the moisturizer is doing wonders for my face!!! I come by quite a bit of makeup and care lines in this business and I can easily recommend both of these, personally.

For Annie’s personal branding session we did more than simply change outfits. We created several different looks both in wardrobe AND in makeup and we created each look with only her Arbonne line. It was truly impressive and I am so excited for what the world holds for Annie.

 

STUDIO 828 PHOTOGRAPHY-ANNIE W-2537

Being a Part of the Experience {Special Olympics Asheville}

portrait photography - asheville - cat ford-coates - wendy ballance - blush - 828blush

I was watching the news on a Sunday morning…oh wait, we’ll back up. Wendy and I had been talking about how we might go about giving back, and doing it in a way that makes a personal impact. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against donating to causes that I believe in. I love to peruse gofundme campaigns, and to participate in fundraising events. However, as much as I know those funds are contributing to the betterment of xyz, they feel a little on the side of indifference. Does that make sense?

We left our conversation to brainstorm on how we might contribute to an effort wherein we could be an integral part of the experience.

So, back to that Sunday morning. I was watching WLOS, our local ABC affiliate here in Asheville and there was a story on a kickball tournament for our local Special Olympics chapter and I spit out my coffee! Literally, down my shirt, onto the couch. My husband turned around and looked at me with the quizzical expression of “Dear lord, what now?” across his face.

I grabbed my cell phone and immediately texted Wendy “I HAVE IT! (insert fireworks and heart emoji here) Special Olympics! What weekends are you free in Jan/Feb?” She was in like Flynn! We mapped out an outline of the best way that we might organize such an event and stay in keeping with the theme of making a difference with the athletes. I didn’t want to turn and burn like you might a photography marathon, but I also wanted more than 2 or 3 people.

The heart of this business is to empower our clients in their own vitality. I can’t think of a better organization to partner with than Special Olympics to meet that purpose. Can you?

When I met with Carla and her team, they were so gracious for the opportunity. One of the things they had mentioned was that so many businesses feel that the only way they CAN contribute to Special Olympics is monetarily, which of course going into the new year is no easy feat for most businesses in Asheville. The real meat of it is they are open to events like this one, wherein all parties not only gain exposure, but help to educate the general public and bring awareness about special needs to the community.

I am thrilled to be making a difference here in Asheville. Not only will we be able to make new friends and create some beautiful portraiture, but French Broad Imaging has agreed to contribute the printing for the athletes (they will each receive a matted print from their session with us), Wendy of Blush Asheville (pictured left) is contributing her artistic services so that every athlete looks their absolute BEST for their portrait and I am chomping at the bit for January 23rd to be NOW! We are going to have so much fun!

I’ll be sure to share all of the funness from our portrait party on the 23rd. Follow our Facebook and Instagram (@catfordcoates) for behind the scenes from 10:00-3:00 on January 23rd!

When asked “Why” our sponsors had this to say:

  • “Those with learning disabilities are so often overlooked as people with thoughts, feelings, and ideas of their own. My job, my purpose, is to not only acknowledge but, to empower them in their own self. It isn’t just about being pretty. It’s about knowing your own grace and owning it.” – Cat Ford-Coates, Studio 828 Photography
  • “I see the beauty within from every girl. If I can make one more smile with a touch of lip gloss and a little blush, then it is one more day I can be blessed by the best job ever.” – Wendy Ballance, Blush Asheville
  • “We are part of this community. We want to help the people in our community, and especially those with special needs. Thank you for the opportunity!” – Tony Hood, French Broad Imaging

Are you interested in sponsoring this event? Reach out below. We’d love to talk!